March 4th, 2009

modern still life

stereotypical / common dog names; russian questions

I was reading a bit about the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov today. It was mentioned that his novel The Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита) "contributed a number of sayings to the Russian language, for example, 'Manuscripts don't burn' and 'second-grade freshness'."  I was wondering what these sayings mean. I'm guessing tthat 'manuscripts don't burn' is something like "the truth will always come out." But I'm not sure what "second-grade freshness' would  be... I'm not sure if Russians name their primary school grades like the US does, so I'm not sure if it refers to the 'freshness' of youth or of something else.

Also, I read that "Sharik" (the name of a dog in one of Bulgakov's works) means "Little Balloon" or "Little Ball" and is a popular Russian nickname for a male dog. That made me wonder what other common dog names / nicknames might be (in any language). In (American) English I know we have things like "Rover", "Spot," or "doggy"... I can't, though, really think of any that are gender-specific (although "Rover" does sound a bit more mascline to me than feminine).


"Je vous en prie" ?

I've been using "Je vous en prie" as a response to "Merci" - but I think I heard it used recently in response to a compliment. Is it also, then, a modest way to respond to a compliment? Or is one of these uses incorrect?

Thanks. :)
Ohmiya bathroom

'Family' in other languages...

Hello linguaphiles! I've been a member of this community for a while, but haven't lurked around here too much; this is also my first post to the community. My name is Starr, and I'm a 19 year old college student majoring in Japanese. My native language is English, and I know a bit of Spanish (I used to be quite good as I mostly hung around one friend whose family only spoke Spanish. I haven't used it in years though, and so forgot a lot of it). I've got a long list of langauges I'd like to eventually learn, starting with Mandarin this fall, though I wonder how far I'll get with that, heh.

Anyhow, enough rambling about that. I was talking to my aunt the other day and she asked for me to send her how to write 'family' in Japanese, as she wanted to use it for a project of hers. As we talked more about it, she said she would like to get the word in as many languages as she could, and I immediately thought of this community.

So, aside from English, Spanish, and Japanese, I haven't got a clue. If you know how to say family in languages other than these, could you please let me know what language it is, how it's written in that language, and also how to pronounce it (though that last one is just for my own curiosity)?

  • lolife

Grammar question

I'm applying for a TESOL certificate and they have a pre-interview task. We are asked to correct sentences and then state WHY it was corrected as such. I've got most of it finished save this question. It doesn't sound incorrect to me.

-“How do you get to the center every day?”
-“I’m walking and then taking the subway.”

I am a native English speaker from Appalachia. This is really important to me, so thank you for your help.

Edit: Thanks so much. I think I have it now. Interestingly enough, the discussion the other day about borrow and lend was quite helpful with a question on this test.

query re French use of 'tu'

Question for French native speakers, please.

I generally have a good grasp on when I should use 'tu', rather than 'vous' in French (native English speaker with reasonable, somewhat rusty French) apart from one situation - I never know which way to go when I meet friends of my French friends for the first time, if I am the one making the first remark that requires use of 'tu' or 'vous'.

Obviously these people are on 'tu' terms with our mutual friends - we're all in our mid-thirties, if that matters - but I worry it seems presumptuous if I use 'tu' right off with people who are total strangers to me, or unnecessarily stiff if I use 'vous' with people with whom I share friends.

Oh, and also - what about addressing someone in her late teens, the babysitter used by a friend, whom I encounter occasionally? I know the usage is generally advised as 'tu' to someone younger, but I wondered whether it didn't seem somewhat condescending? It's me initiating the conversation, as she's so shy she's monosyllabic.

Could someone illuminate? Thanks.

ETA: I am aware of the general tu/vous rules, but as I haven't lived in France since I was considerably younger, I'm rather less confident on the nuances of mutual address in a social situation between adults who are no longer students, and being the older person addressing the younger.
haneul bl

pronunciation help.

I was wondering about this and I figured this would be the community to ask.

I'm working on my Spanish pronunciation and let's just say it needs a little help. So far I think I've mastered the soft D, the R, the rolled R, and more or less, the V/B. What I need help with is the J and the TR, as in tres and dentro.

When I learned the soft D it was a breakthrough because someone actually explained to me how to make the sound, instead of just telling me that it was soft. The English D is against the gum ridge, while the Spanish D is more against the back of the front teeth. So I was hoping someone here could explain to me how to say the J and TR in the same manner as the soft D was explained to me.

I've been told that with the J you narrow your throat and "it's kind of like you're going to hack up a hairball but not quite". I get the gist, but I still can't seem to replicate the sound without going too far and doing like a Hebrew phlegm thing. I need to find the middle ground between an open English H sound and a heavy phlegmy sound. Sometimes I play around with my cat and hiss at her with a narrow throat, I'm wondering if it's kinda like that...

But I'm having the most trouble with TR. Or DR, or basically any consonant that comes in front of an R. In English the TR is different, like in 'tree'; it's "chree". But in Spanish the T and R are more separate, I suppose, and I still haven't found a good explanation on how to make the sound. I've listened to native speakers and tried to copy them but it's hard.

Really I just need a good explanation on how to make the sound, and after that it'll just take practice. But I want to get past these pronunciation barriers so I can move forward with the language and feel more comfortable speaking it.

So if anyone could help me that'd be great. Thanks! :)